By Martin Ebner
Everyone regards fitness results differently. After all, we each have personal goals and reasons for exercising. Perhaps you want to be the next Arnold Schwarzenegger or simply exercise to live a healthier and happier life with better sleep and more energy. But what happens when you have a very specific goal and stop seeing results despite consistent and ever challenging workouts?
Unfortunately, as human beings we have limited potential in terms of how far we can develop. For lucky newbie exercisers, the results are often swift, substantial and rewarding. Unfortunately, the rate of progress that you experience when you first start working out isn’t sustainable long-term. If it were we’d be capable of feats beyond our wildest imaginations.
The sad truth then is that the fitter you get, the harder it is to see noticeable results. This can be very frustrating with many people turning to desperate measures to achieve their goals. Sadly extreme measures tend to come with extreme consequences.
To avoid putting both your physical and mental health at risk trying to achieve your fitness goals, here are some things you can do to improve your chances of progress:
Take a little time off
The most common mistake people make when they hit a fitness wall is to exercise more. While this might sound like the logical thing to do, it can actually have a very negative effect on not only your fitness goals and results but on your energy levels and wellbeing. Like most things in life, If you push them too hard, they eventually break and the human body is no different.
To avoid a potential burnout, take a little time off to recharge your batteries and to reassess your training plan and fitness goals.
Related: Exercise - How much is too much
Start taking nutrition more seriously
Without proper nutrition, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to progress as much as you’d like to. The body can only work with what you feed it and if you regularly deprive it of what it needs to perform, you’ll see little in terms of progression.
Start paying closer attention to macros (Carbs, protein, and fat) and choose a diet plan specific to your fitness goals. Pre and post-workout nutrition should have the utmost Importance when working towards a very specific fitness goal.
Get experimental with your workouts
If you’ve been doing the same workouts day in day out for months or even years, it’s no surprise that you’re seeing little in the way of new results. Our bodies adapt and progress with change, not routine. If you’ve been sticking to the same exercise plan for longer than you can remember, try mixing things up. By challenging your body to something new it will be forced out of its comfort zone which can pay dividends on your fitness results.
Stick with it
Just as doing too much of a certain exercise or activity can impair your results, doing too little can have the same effectJust like doing too much of a certain exercise or activity can damage your results, doing too little of it can have the same effect. It’s important when starting a new routine that you have patience and allow your body time to adapt and respond to the workouts. Give each new workout program at least 8-12 weeks. This goes for diet too!
Accept that progress might be slow
This might sound like a cop-out but it’s not. The problem with modern society is that we’re almost incapable of accepting things to stay as they are. If we’re not swiftly moving forward we’re moving backward, right? Not necessarily! Let’s take building muscle as an example. While you may not be able to gain significantly more muscle mass, this doesn’t mean that the quality and functionality of the muscle can’t improve. Just because you can’t see aesthetic improvement, it doesn’t mean you aren't progressing.
The number of times someone will reminisce about how they once lost 20lbs effortlessly and when I ask when this was they tell me they were in their late teens. If you think you can lose weight or build muscle at 40 like you did at 18 you’re not being at all realistic. Unfortunately, as we age our ability to see instant results decreases. Instead, be realistic and set attainable goals. By doing so you’ll be able to enjoy your workouts more and avoid disappointment.
If you’re highly stressed, it’s little wonder that your fitness results are suffering as a consequence. Stress places a huge amount of pressure on your body, robbing you of both energy and enthusiasm for your workouts.
If you think that stress is negatively impacting not only your lifestyle but your fitness goals, it might be a good idea to experiment with a few different relaxation techniques. Massage, Yoga and breathing exercises can drastically help reduce stress.
Speak to a mental health professional
If you feel that your body image and desire to constantly progress is having a detrimental effect on your happiness, you may benefit from speaking to a mental health profession. It could be that your drive for progression is the result of something deeper. Speaking with a phycologist or a close friend could help you put things into perspective.
If you're kicking your own butt in the gym, eating right, sleeping enough and limiting stress, it could be that the lack of noticeable progress is a result of a hormonal imbalance. Make an appointment with your local GP to discuss any health issues that could be related to your fitness progress.